From its roots in West Africa and early American militia drumming to its prominence in African American communities during the time of Reconstruction, fife and drum bands have served both as a rallying tool for political militancy and provided community music for funerals, picnics, parades, and dances. Although fife and drum music ultimately died out in Tennessee during the early 1980s, its history can be traced through newspaper articles and interviews with music researchers and participants. John M. Shaw is a musicologist, musician, writer, and blogger, currently pursuing a doctorate at the University of Memphis.


Tennessee 101 is funded in part by a grant from Humanities Tennessee, an independent affiliate of the National Endowment for the Humanities.


August 9, 2023


5:30 pm CT

6:30 pm ET